Why Community Marketing?
Community Marketing is part of Social Media Marketing / Management. Basically, the operation of an online community is a proven, albeit costly, means of retaining customers and, if possible, acquiring new customers.
But before you start, you should analyse exactly where you currently stand. What is the status quo? How are my company, my products / services etc… perceived by third parties in order to determine a strategy, including clearly defined goals, for successful community marketing based on the results.
Basically there are 3x types of groups: “public“, “closed” and “secret” groups. When creating a group this can be set in the settings, if necessary under privacy: Differences are: Public and closed groups can be viewed, secret groups cannot. To become a member of a “secret group”, you must be invited by an active member.
The practical consequence of the above strategy is to use the right community software. Therefore it is important to choose a CMS-System (CMS = Content Management System), which can be built up modularly – like for example: Drupal (complex) or also WordPress (Plugin: buddypress). Other community software would be for example: Elgg, XOOPS, Dolphin (Boonex) etc…
Why become a member of a group / community?:
The reason for a group membership is first of all in the group, based on the same interests, hobbies, inclinations, goals, etc…, to create content together and to expand the own network. The well- known social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, XING etc… offer platforms for this… Important: You first start to create “open groups”. There are different phases of group members:
Basically, the so-called “90 – 9 – 1” rule is applied to groups => 90 sign up, notice that they are in the wrong place and sign off again very quickly. 9 remain passively in the group (“inactive persons”). 1 person remains in the group and actively participates in the group => he develops into an “insider“.
Roles within a community:
Members of a group basically go through different roles within their “life cycle”. Such as:
First of all, there’s the rookie. He usually behaves like a consumer and often shows a reactive / passive behaviour. Then one should name the insider already mentioned above. The operators of a community prefer the so-called experts or someone who pursues an expert strategy on the internet and has an economic interest, for example. But beware of the so-called “enthusiasts“, who might want to have a slice of the cake under certain circumstances, who are looking for recognition. This could lead to the “worst case scenario”, that if the person is denied this, the enthusiast leaves disappointed, possibly taking members with him & opening his own group.
Last but not least, there are the innovators: they show what he/she knows and can do right after registration. An innovator is very proactive… With an expert, you should try to instrumentalize this person for your purposes. But be careful: It can also be a so-called “leisure troll“, who in the worst case only wants to instigate a little “anarchy”. Here you have to find out by clever questions whether it is “friend” or “enemy.
Conclusion: Community marketing is the promotion of the community. Important: The goal of the community should be clearly defined at the very beginning. The members must also be told how to behave (netiquette), which topics are discussed or what could interest people, chat possibilities, conduct & analyse surveys and make the results available etc. … In short the promotion of the community. Problem: How do you get people from the virtual to the real world? This can be done by organizing joint events, for example, and then reporting on them in the group (for example, “XING Stammtisch”).